Round 2 of the NRL saw a number of upsets, amid mostly tight games (Manly-Parramatta being the exception). With tipping harder than ever, today’s games will give us a clearer idea of how the season will go. While some teams are over performing, others have yet to get into stride, so what is going to happen?
Canberra Raiders vs New Zealand Warriors, 3 pm
Canberra is one of the teams who have clearly not even come close to their potential yet. The Warriors, meanwhile, finally look like they have harnessed the star power they have available.
The Raiders only have a points differential of -4, despite having lost both games so far this season. This is a testament to how close they were to winning both of those matches, and they will be hungry to finally close one out. In Canberra the Warriors will need to be careful not to fall back into their old habit of inconsistency.
Both sides have also named strong attacking line ups, but I’ll tip the Raiders at home to get their first win of the season.
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Manly Sea Eagles, 5:30 pm
After a golden point loss in round 1, Manly shocked the NRL by belting Parramatta 54-0 on Sunday. The Bunnies, conversely, are winless and down -16 on points differential after 2 rounds.
Both sides have big forward packs, with Souths looking like fielding 3 Burgess’ at once at some point. The Sea Eagles have a far classier back line that proved its strike power last week, however. Daly Cherry-Evans is also doing his best to grab one of the vacant Queensland halves spots this year.
With more strike power out wide, the form playmaker in the competition and possibly a slight edge in the pack, Manly should take the points reasonably easily in the first game of tonight’s ANZ double header.
Parramatta Eels vs Cronulla Sharks, 7:35 pm
One of these teams, tipped to be premiership contenders, will face starting the season with three straight losses tonight. The Sharks are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Dragons last week, while the Eels were embarrassed by Manly. Both teams have plenty to play for tonight, and neither has reached the heights they are capable of yet.
Cronulla have a stronger forward pack, and will look to replicate Manly’s up front domination of Parramatta. The Eels look to have a more settled backline, and their star players will be ready to fire. Jarryd Hayne will also be psyching himself up for a big one after copping a lot of (unfair) heat for the way Parramatta has started the season.
I think that in cooler conditions the Eels forwards will be able to do enough against Cronulla to let their backline shine. The Eels should therefore win to give their NRL season a boost, but it will be a close one.